The vast majority of bills and motions debated in South Australia’s Parliament are put up by a tiny minority of members, a new analysis of Parliamentary data finds.
The last session of Parliament, which is nearing a close with only six days likely to be left, was totally dominated by Attorney-General John Rau.
Many members have only put up one or two motions or bills since February 2012. Five members have not got a single recorded involvement.
“A Member of Parliament is meant to represent their electorate. Some members don’t understand that – they think they’re in there to represent their own personal views,” Independent MP Bob Such told InDaily.
Click here to see the data in detail, and to find out what your member’s been up to, at InDaily’s Pollie Tracker
How to use the tracker:
1. Each balloon represents a member of Parliament. The larger the balloon, the more bills and motions they have introduced. To see a member in detail, click their balloon.
2. Use the sliders and checkboxes on the right to filter the data by party, house and date
The dataset does not cover all goings on in Parliament – in particular question time, which can be a key part of a member’s role. Opposition members, in particular, are expected to use question time to hold the Government to account. It also only covers the bills and motions members introduce; speaking on or against another member’s bill is not counted, nor are committee activities.
Perhaps the most telling fact from the analysis is that most members have introduced very few bills or motions. Of 69 members in the upper and lower house, 49 had less than 10 recorded motions or bills.
Five members do not have a single motion or bill to their name. They are the ALP’s Zoe Bettison, independent (formerly Labor MLC) Bernard Finnigan, and Liberals Tim Whetstone, John Dawkins, and Opposition Leader Steven Marshall.
Leader of the Greens Mark Parnell told InDaily bills and motions were important jobs for MPs, but there were other “tools” in their kitbag.
“I think this is a good exercise, but it’s not the entirety of what goes on,” he said.
“What you’re doing is putting on the public record, what changes you, or your constituency, think need to be made.
“These are just techniques of getting a topic debated publicly.”
Member for Ramsay Zoe Bettison told InDaily most of her work was done outside of Parliament, although she had a motion going up this week.
“My role as an elected Member of Parliament is to represent my constituents, and while speaking in Parliament is an important aspect of that role, I believe that the success of an elected member should be measured by the totality of the work he or she does in Parliament and within the electorate.
“A significant proportion of my work is done outside of Parliament, including advocating on behalf of constituents, acting as a community referral point, and engaging with local community groups.
“Within Parliament, since being elected in February last year, much of my work has been through committees and parliamentary groups.”
John Rau has been by far the busiest member of the last session of Parliament. He has his name on 64 bills and 10 motions – unsurprising given he holds three ministerial portfolios in addition to his work as Attorney-General and Deputy Premier.
The heavy legislative reliance on Rau may be a signal of the Government’s legislative priorities in the last Parliament. His roles as Planning Minister and Attorney-General are central to two of the Government’s key agenda items – planning reform and law and order.
The next-busiest are Gail Gago – who, like Rau, wears many ministerial hats – and, somewhat surprisingly, the member for Little Para Lee Odenwalder, whose numbers are high due to formerly being the presiding member of the of the Public Works Committee.
It is obvious the data significantly biases the Government side of the Parliamentary benches, because it does not capture questions asked in question time. Government members are also more likely to put up bills than the Opposition as the Government pursues its legislative agenda.
In this Parliament the Opposition has put up 31 bills and 69 motions, compared to 155 bills and 178 motions from the Government.
Surprisingly, by this measure Michelle Lensink is the busiest member of the Opposition, with 18 motions and bills to her name across a range of topics – including calling for select committees and moving amendments on national parks legislation.
Data for Parliament’s independents tells a very interesting tale. Bob Such is clearly Parliament’s dominant independent – he’s the second-busiest member behind Rau.
But despite generating 41 motions and bills in the last sitting, Such hasn’t had a single piece of legislation approved.
“A lot of it is to push the boundaries if you like, to challenge the Government to do things,” Such told InDaily.
“By putting up motions which are not legally enforceable, nevertheless they do require the Government to respond.
“The fact that Parliamentary counsel have drafted a bill it means that if the Government wants to bring in a similar bill, half the work is done.”
Also interesting is Family First’s team, where Rob Brokenshire takes most of the load. InDaily understands Family First has taken a strategic decision to have Brokenshire do the high profile work, while its other member Dennis Hood is tasked with assessing other parties’ legislative submissions.
Application design and development: Daniel Emery and Liam Mannix
Additional reporting: Daniel Fitzgerald
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